London: “Detainment”, a short film based on the murder of British toddler James Bulger, has come under fire after it received an Academy Award nomination. Denise Fergus, mother of Bulger, who was mercilessly killed by two 10-year-old boys — Jon Venables and Robert Thompson — in 1993, blasted the film, which she said, was made without their permission.
Fergus demanded that its Oscar nomination should be rescinded. The film is nominated in the Best Live Action Short Film category at the Academy Awards 2019. “I cannot express how disgusted and upset I am at this so-called film that has been made and now nominated for an Oscar,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter. “It’s one thing making a film like this without contacting or getting permission from James’ family but another to have a child re-enact the final hours of James’s life before he was brutally murdered and making myself and my family have to relive this all over again! (sic)” she added.
According to The Guardian, an online petition seeking its removal was started last December after the film made into the top nine Oscar shortlist. It has since gained over 98,000 signatures. “After everything I have said about this so-called film and asking it to be removed, it’s still been nominated for for an Oscar even though 90,000 people have signed a petition which has now been ignored just like my feelings by the Academy. I’m so angry and upset at this present time… I just hope the film doesn’t win its category in the Oscars,” she said.
The director, Vincent Lambe, had previously defended the film but apologised for not consulting Bulger’s family. “Detainment” relies on transcripts of interviews with the killers to re-enact the events. “I have enormous sympathy for the Bulger family and I am extremely sorry for any upset the film may have caused them,” he said. Bulger was killed by Venables and Thompson on February 12, 1993. Fergus took her son with her to a shopping centre near Liverpool, and when she went to pay at the counter, the two convicts took the two-year-old and left the market.
The duo had brutally murdered the boy and then left his body on nearby train tracks. They were charged with abduction and murder. They were sentenced for eight years in prison. Venables and Thompson released in 2001 and given new identities.